Software or firmware?

Discussion in 'iPad OS' started by graywolf, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. graywolf
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    graywolf iPad Super Guru

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    Ok, I have seen people call it firmware, and software. What is it!
    I know firmware is like deep underlying stuff like in a pc, the bios would be the firmware.
    The iPad has a bootrom, so would the bootrom be the firmware and the software is iOS?
    Or do I totally have this screwed up?
  2. f4780y
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    f4780y Super Moderator Staff Member

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    OK.

    bootrom is the bootrom. It can't be changed, it's hard coded into the chip, and controls the boot process. I think I'm right in saying that the software contained in the bootrom is called "SecureROM" by Apple. After it runs I believe control passes to the second stage bootloader, known as iBoot. This is why you will hear people say they want an "iBoot or lower" exploit, because this is the part of the device that Apple can't change without a hardware revision. The limera1n exploit pwns the iPad1 for life because of an exploit like this!

    iOS is often called the "firmware", but if I am honest, that is not really the proper use of the word. Wikipedia has a good article on it. Search!
    Firmware is typically the OS of a small device or gadget. For example, the OS of a digital camera is referred to as the camera's firmware. Usually a firmware is flashed to a overwritable chip (EPROM) in the device. This does NOT happen on the iPad (or iPhone etc.). IOS gets installed on the flash storage, just like any other piece of software.

    In the case of the iPad, the iOS operating system is software, just like you would say linux or windows is software. It's just that many people in our scene call it firmware (including me!). That's where the confusion lies.

    Apps that you install on top of iOS are also software, just like any program you would install on a PC.

    Quick summary:

    Bootrom is embedded in the chip and contains software such as iBoot.
    IOS is the operating system software, but is called firmware by most folks around here.
    Apps are software.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  3. Tim SPRACKLEN
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    Tim SPRACKLEN iPad Legend

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    Great explanation, Leigh. I've just emailed this to all of my students!!

    Thanks!!

    Tim
  4. graywolf
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    graywolf iPad Super Guru

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    Awesomesause!

    Ok. I got it now. :)

    I have flashed firmware onto my old wireless router to make it a booster so what you said makes sense.

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